Preserving Humbug Marsh, Centerpiece of Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, Receives Global Recognition

Project Summary: Preservation of the Humbug Marsh protected the last mile of natural shoreline on the U.S. side of the Detroit River. The largely pristine, 410-acre marsh is home to numerous fish and wildlife species and stands of old-growth white oaks.

Project name: Humbug Marsh Preservation

Location: Gibraltar, Mich., south of Detroit, along the Detroit River

Description: Humbug Marsh is the centerpiece of the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge, which is North America’s first international wildlife refuge. The marsh—which was to be filled in and developed—was saved when thousands of area residents joined with government agencies and nonprofit organizations to preserve one of the last natural areas on the U.S. side of the Detroit River.

The marsh is home to 154 species of birds, 51 species of fish, 90 species of

A view of Humbug Marsh, looking out onto the Detroit River. Photo from Flickr/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Midwest Region.

A view of Humbug Marsh, looking out onto the Detroit River. Photo from Flickr/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Region.

plants, seven species of reptiles and amphibians, and 37 species of dragonflies and damselflies. In 2010, it was designated Michigan’s first Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. Humbug Marsh is one of just 27 wetlands in the U.S., and 1,886 wetlands worldwide, that have been recognized by the Ramsar Convention.

Approximate cost of project: $8.6 million.

Resource challenge addressed:

Industrial, commercial and residential development along the Detroit River over the past century eliminated 97 percent of coastal wetlands on the U.S. side of the 32-mile long river. Those losses robbed the river of critical fish and wildlife habitat, which contributed to population losses.

Key partners (public and private):

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Trust for Public Land and Friends of the Detroit River.

Types of jobs created:

Biologists, ecologists, landscape architects, excavators, architects, structural engineers, carpenters, plumbers and botanists.

Results and accomplishments:

The Humbug Marsh project preserved the last mile of natural shoreline along the U.S. side of the Detroit River. It has become the centerpiece of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge—a destination for people to watch wildlife, to fish and to go boating.  More than $2 million has been spent to clean up pollution on land adjoining Humbug Marsh, erect an environmental education shelter and build 1.5 miles of trails around the perimeter of the marsh. Site work began in 2011 on the Refuge Gateway project. When complete, the Refuge Gateway will include a visually stunning visitor’s center, interpretive trails, fishing piers and kayak launch sites.

Web site: http://1.usa.gov/humbugmarsh

Originally Published: October 10, 2011

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